MANILA, PHILIPPINES – As new or emerging infections diseases rear their ugly heads and overwhelm health and medical professionals already having more than enough on their plates, the personnel gap must be more than made up for by more, newer, and better treatment facilities.
The trick is to provide “mission-specific” hospitals or medical centers to cater to specialized needs of patients, especially in remote areas of the country.
Thus, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III sought the establishment of regional specialty hospitals across the country to bring closer to the people the government’s healthcare program.
At the same time, Pimentel cautioned the Department of Health against pursuing its plan to privatize government hospitals because it would only deprive the poor of needed medical services.
He said the establishment of specialty hospitals like the Lung Center or the National Kidney Institute in Visayas and Mindanao would translate into better and equitable access to health services.
The lawmaker from Cagayan de Oro City noted the huge disparities that Metro Manila enjoys when it comes to access and availability of better health services and facilities compared to Visayas and Mindanao and other parts of Luzon.
Because these hospitals are located only in Metro Manila where there are better facilities, Pimentel said people especially from Visayas and Mindanao need to spend more for their medication.
“The hard reality is that majority of rural Filipinos lack access to affordable and easily available healthcare. Health services remain grossly inequitable,” he said.
Pimentel stressed the need to address the regional disparities with the gravest attention and concern to save lives and improve the health situation in the country.
He said specialized tertiary hospitals like the NKTI would provide advanced patient care, especially in the treatment of renal disease, dialysis, and organ transplant.
Hospitals specializing in cardiovascular treatment like the Philippine Heart Center, those that cater to musculoskeletal disorders like the Philippine Orthopedic Center and pediatric hospitals like the Philippine Children’s Hospital should be regionalized.
Pimentel said a great part of the country’s robust economic growth over the last decade was a direct result of what are taking place outside of Metro Manila.
“We should not treat Visayas and Mindanao or Bicol and Ilocos as an afterthought. Our people there also deserve the same medical care and services being availed of in Metro Manila,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Mindanao solon urged the DoH to rethink its plan to privatize public hospitals because this would only worsen the people’s lack of access to available and affordable health facilities and services.
He said the privatization of government hospitals would mean losing good public hospitals that support the poor, stressing that majority of the people rely on these hospitals for their medical and health needs.
The government, he said, is mandated to guarantee people’s rights to health care and equitable access to health services.
Pimentel said huge revenues generated from sin products and those by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office should be channeled for the health benefit of the entire citizenry.
He said these resources may be used to build specialty hospitals in every region in the country so that people would no longer travel to Metro Manila to seek specialized medical attention or support the modernization of government hospitals.
– DFF, Medical Observer